Sydney and the Blue Mountains

In December 2015, Bearface came to Australia to do some motorcycle touring and spend the holidays with us.  We spend most of Christmas Day at Hyams Beach on Jervis Bay, home of (debatedly) the whitest sand in the world (definitely the whitest I’ve seen), then drove to Sydney.  We stayed in Sydney for a week until New Years to watch the Sydney New Years fireworks, then on New Years Day, we drove to Blackheath in the Blue Mountains for the weekend.  Here are some pictures I took from those adventures.

Every one of my visits to Sydney includes a walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens.  This time, we actually went on one of the free guided tours and learned heaps of stuff and saw heaps of stuff we never would have known about from just walking around unguided.

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Green leaves at the Royal Botanic Gardens

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Little white flowers growing in the puddle in the middle of a giant flower

We went to Bondi Beach and walked the whole coastal track from Bondi to Coogee.  It was crazy windy and unseasonably cold but beautiful!  Pretty Boy wants to go to Bondi every time we’re in Sydney, and I’d be happy to walk the coastal track again and again.

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Bearface, Pretty Boy, and me at Bondi and the start of our walk

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This was about half way along the track, looking back at Tamarama Beach and Waverley Cemetery; we started somewhere on the other side of that far point

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Sydney’s high end real estate along Gordons Bay

Something we’d never done in Sydney before, Pretty Boy and I took a ferry from North Sydney to Watsons Bay and walked around the South Head entrance to Sydney Harbour.  We also had tasty fish and chips from Doyle’s on the Wharf Take Away.

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Downtown Sydney, the Harbour Bridge, and Watsons Bay seen from the top of Gap Bluff

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Watsons Bay wharf

Snapped this quick shot of Pretty Boy while we were waiting for a table at bill’s in Surrey Hills.

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Aspiring model in the making (not an advertisement for Ray-Bans… promise)

Even after multiple visits, we are still finding new things to do in Sydney and loving it just as much every time.

After Sydney, to get to Blackheath, we drove the long way around, taking the Bell Line of Road.  In Bilpin along the way, we stopped at Pie in the Sky Roadhouse for sweet and savory pie and picked up some local fruit from a fruit seller.  We also stopped at the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden in Mount Tomah.  I love all botanic gardens, and this one did not disappoint.  I am so keen to go back and spend more time there.

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The botanic garden nestled in the Blue Mountains

When we were staying in Blackheath, Pretty Boy and I went on a major hike recommended in my Lonely Planet Guide.  Here is a map of the route we took.  We started at Perrys Lookdown, north of Blackheath, and hiked straight down the valley wall to the base of the valley, about a 300 m descent.  Along the bottom of the valley was the Grose River, magical Blue Gum Forest, and Acacia Flat camping area.  We passed a few other hikers on the way down and met some people camping at Acacia Flat.  After marveling at the Blue Gum Forest and wading in the creek, we decided to keep hiking in the valley, instead of going back up the way we came down.  We hiked along Govetts Creek to Junction Rock then took the Rodriguez Pass walking track up to Govetts Leap Lookout.  Along the way, we stopped and swam (in our underwear!) in a pool in the creek next to which we were hiking.  Ugh, I still remember how freezing that water was!  But it was refreshing on our tired legs and washed off the sticky sweat so I think it helped us get the rest of the way out of the valley.  We were tuckered after the serious climb up the side of the valley (400 m total ascent, 300 m of which were tackled on staircases at the very end) and had planned on having Bearface pick us up at the lookout, but that didn’t work out, so we walked back to the AirBnB cottage we were staying at via the Barrow Lookout, Braeside walk, and the city streets.

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Fern tree un-ferning in front of Pretty Boy on our way down to the Blue Gum Forest

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We saw amazing plants and rocks in the valley

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Bridal veil or Govetts leap falls being blown away in the wind; this was at the last bit of trail before Govetts Leap Lookout; doesn’t even do the ascent justice

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Partway up to Govetts Leap Lookout, looking across the valley that we were hiking in all day

Looking back at the falls while ascending

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Gazing out at the ground (and elevation) we covered

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Pretty patterns cast by the light in our AirBnB cottage

An exhausting, amazing adventure!  It was one of the most physically demanding hikes Pretty Boy and I have ever done, but I loved it and hope to get back to the Blue Mountains again for more.  And all that hard work made our dinner that night at Vesta Blackheath so, so extra delicious.  I sat with my back to an old iron chiminea that had a fire burning in it the whole night and positively melted with exhaustion in the glorious heat.

On our way back to Canberra, we drove through Katoomba and stopped at Scenic World to see the Three Sisters.  Touristy Scenic World was very different from the rough wilderness of our hike in Blackheath, but the Blue Mountains are beautiful from either setting.

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Three Sisters, limestone rock formations on the left of the valley

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Water falls around Scenic World

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Goofing around on the walking trails at Scenic World

We did so many things on that trip!  But these were the highlights of the pictures I took.  The Blue Mountains are only a 3 hours drive from Canberra so I have no excuses for not getting back there more often.

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One response to “Sydney and the Blue Mountains

  1. Beautiful, and that word doesn’t begin to tell the story of your adventurous hike. AWESOME!!

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